Saturday, November 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS


Voters win with top-two primary

elias column sig

By
From page A8 | June 21, 2014 |

Results like those from this month’s primary cause detractors to call California’s four-year-old top-two election system the “jungle primary” because it often features races with a dozen or more contestants and outcomes that can be completely unpredictable.

For sure, that makes it a lot more fun both to vote and follow election returns – unless you are a prominent candidate or a boss of either major party.

Focus on just one statewide race for a solid picture of what the top-two system can do. This one came within a hair (and a recount might change things back) of absolutely assuring the Republican Party of one of California’s four leading political offices this fall, even though registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans by about 15 percent.

That race pitted two established, well-funded Democratic candidates against two Republicans, with one more Democrat and a Green Party hopeful also in the field. Not as many prospects as in some other races, but still plenty to scramble some establishment eggs.

The 10.9 percent of the Election Day vote count won by virtually unknown Democrat Tammy D. Blair and Green Laura Wells knocked down the counts of former Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez and state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. So, for much of election night, it appeared Republicans Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, and David Evans, a CPA and former mayor of tiny California City, would meet this fall with no Democratic opposition.

In a state which has seen no statewide Republican officeholders for almost four years, that would have been remarkable.

But Perez edged out Evans by a mere 2,436 votes, a 21.7 percent performance, when all the counting was done on election night, and appeared headed for a runoff with Swearengin (who herself had just 24.4 percent), pending the count of thousands of provisional and damaged ballots, not to mention a potential recount. Since then, Perez and Yee have gone back and forth in the second spot, with Yee leading by a mere 708 votes as of Friday morning.

Under the previous party primary system, there would have been little remarkable in those numbers – Swearengin would have been the GOP nominee and the Democratic winner would still be in the balance, but for sure a Democrat and a Republican would have faced off in the fall.

If this kind of narrow race for an office whose occupant is the state’s chief check-writer doesn’t prove that every vote matters, it’s hard to see what could. Top two, then, will provide future motivation for two things: It will give voters more reason than ever to participate, and it will give parties reason to get organized well enough to avoid matchups between prominent party mates for the same office.

There was no such organization in either party this time. The result is that in district after district, races will pit people of the same parties in runoffs this fall. In runs for Congress alone, seven districts in all parts of the state will see Democrat vs. Democrat and Republican on Republican.

In some of those contests, incumbents ran up large primary majorities, but still must run again in the fall, suggesting top two should be tweaked to make winning 50 percent of the primary vote sufficient for election. If that were the case now, Gov. Jerry Brown would already have a second term. Similarly, incumbent members of Congress like Xavier Becerra, Tom McClintock, Adam Schiff, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Mike Thompson must contest again in November, despite far outdistancing all who ran against them this spring.

Such a modification to top-two voting would also see Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat, returned to office to represent Solano County based on his 53.3 percent of the primary vote in a head-to-head contest with Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue. Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, would also be returned to office after having won his head-to-head primary with Republican Alex Henthorn of Vacaville.

More interesting will be the same-party race pitting Republicans Tony Strickland and Steve Knight in a district that stretches from Ventura County to the High Desert portion of Los Angeles County, and another matching first-term Democrat Eric Swallwell and state Senate majority leader Ellen Corbett in the East Bay suburbs of San Francisco. Silicon Valley gets a ballyhooed intraparty race between longtime incumbent Democrat Mike Honda and the well-funded Indian-American Ro Khanna. Members of the minority party in each of those districts can now decide the fall outcomes, exactly what top two intended.

This primary also debunked the notion that top two allows only major party candidates onto runoffs. Incumbents Schiff and Thompson both face independents.

It’s all different from after any previous California primary, with incumbents less secure than before, and voters with the power they sought when they created top two.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • JagJune 21, 2014 - 8:02 am

    But it still all democrats,, Thanks for trying to make it interesting Thomas It`s just not,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

US / World

House intel panel debunks many Benghazi theories

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 7 Comments

 
A look at how FDA-approved robotic leg braces work

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Marine with robotic leg braces gets Bronze Star

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Oregon festival’s giant nutcracker: 41 feet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

San Francisco window washer falls onto moving car

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Zookeepers had safety concerns before gorilla died

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

California storms bring scattered rain, mudslides

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Judge declares wrongly convicted woman innocent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

$139M deal reached in school molestation case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Agency rejects solar project in Silurian Valley

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Senate leader lays off dozens of office employees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
UC expands legal services for immigrant students

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Man pleads not guilty to emailing nudies of ex

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Stymied? Republicans seek immigration response

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

LA animal shelter slashes prices on 100 pets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Iran nuke talks stalled, despite Kerry efforts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Biden urges Russia to uphold east Ukraine truce

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Police: 3-year-old set fire that killed his family

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

93-year-old woman marks 75 years with same company

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
UK police spied on reporters for years, docs show

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Agency: Schools helped Lanza’s mom ‘appease’ him

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Bandits in Guinea steal suspected Ebola blood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

With snow still piled high, Buffalo faces flooding

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Opinion

 
Editorial Cartoons: Nov. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Batson column falls short of truth

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 40 Comments

.

Living

Community Calendar: Nov. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Nov. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

My sister kicked Mom out of her house and won’t let her have the car

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

 
Horoscopes: Nov. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

Blanket drive for homeless gets help from Colts player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

Bill Cosby show set for Vegas casino canceled

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Matt Czuchry says ‘Good Wife’ arc is at right time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

‘Queen Latifah Show’ to end after its 2nd season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

.

Sports

Vacaville downs Del Oro to advance to section semis

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

 
Sparano savors 1st win with Raiders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Ibanez, Cash, Wakamatsu finalists to manage Rays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Federal judge denies sports betting in New Jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

JC women’s basketball: Solano advances to tourney title game

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Ciganda, Granada tied for lead at LPGA finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sharks trade Demers to Stars for Dillon

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NFL will hear Adrian Peterson’s appeal Dec. 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers’ Dorsey is out of Sunday’s game against Redskins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
France levels tie against Switzerland in Davis Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

Toyota recalls nearly 423K Lexuses for fuel leaks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Ford’s new F-150 to get 26 mpg, tops among pickups

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 1 Comment | Gallery

CEOs in 10 big mergers to get $430M: Equilar study

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
California unemployment unchanged at 7.3 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

White House: Immigration steps would boost wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Home Seller 11/22/14

Ask a Designer: from clutter to decor

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2

Real estate transactions for Nov. 22, 2014

By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: HSR3

US 30-year mortgage rates drop to 3.99 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3